This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:15-16
Here in this verse, Paul reveals one of the major aspects as to why Christians should not run away from their past. Far too often when you walk into a church, there seems to be this sense, this facade, that requires or asks for perfection.
In Sunday school classes and Bible studies, people tend to shy away from admitting to the mistakes they’ve made and with good reason. Revealing the tough aspects of the past can be an extremely difficult, raw ordeal. As you look through Paul’s letters though, he often refers to himself as “the chief of sinners,” freely confessing his previous years as a murderer and persecutor of the church.
It’s a rare thing to hear any person speak about his or her faults. Most of the time, when we hear someone start rattling off the issues of their past, it makes us uncomfortable – with good reason. It’s a misunderstanding that simply putting the issues of our past out there demonstrates grace in the way that Paul’s confession does when he calls himself the “chief of sinners.”
Confronting your past doesn’t mean that you look at it with a bleeding heart, “oh woe is me” sort of mentality. This confrontation must be in accordance with a focus on grace and what Christ has done and can do in spite of our past. Grace turns a murder into one who gives life; it turns an unfaithful man into the epitome of faithfulness. The grace and forgiveness of Christ do not exist as a simple pardon. They are the empowerment that drives an honest, heartfelt change within an individual.
That’s why there has to be courage to come to the cross exactly as you are, hiding nothing. Doing so is a demonstration of trust in the power of Christ.